The Lost Girls by Heather Young
Paraphrased from Goodreads
In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favourite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child. Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.
For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbour is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935. Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.
I really enjoyed this book and thought it was super interesting! It’s definitely not fast-paced or action-packed, but I was hooked nonetheless. It was exactly the type of book I was looking to read.
I think my favourite part was the characters, which is kind of weird because they’re not very likeable people. The story alternates between first-person narration by Lucy and third-person narration focused on Justine. I liked Lucy as a narrator and thought she had an interesting perspective on life. I liked Justine too. I thought she tried hard to be a mom and to be liked, and to give her daughters all the things she didn’t have as a kid.
One great thing about this book is that all the side characters are really well-developed too. None of them are one-dimensional. Lilith, Maurie, Justine’s daughters, Patrick, Matthew, and Lucy’s parents were all very complex. A lot of them were really unlikeable people, but they were interesting and definitely made the story.
I also really liked the family dynamics. They were all fucked up and definitely not a healthy, normal family, but they were interesting to read and again made the story. They added to the story and made the mystery more interesting.
The mystery wasn’t super complex at all, but it was still interesting. I wanted to keep reading about Lucy and Lilith’s last summer in the house.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a relatively easy read that’s still interesting and has good family dynamics.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts on this book if you’ve read it!